Spencer gets preview of Park Plaza

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SPENCER — The Spencer Board of Aldermen got its first look at a revamped Park Plaza on Tuesday night.

Keith Wales of Studio Wales Architecture presented designs and architect’s renderings of what the finished municipal complex would look like.

“We’re very excited to present our vision tonight,” Wales said.

Much of Wales’ presentation was spent going over designs for the property’s future park — which will occupy space near South Salisbury Avenue. The green space would be, in many ways, the heart of the project.

“The town wanted to bring back the park,” Wales explained. “There once was a park, and then it became parking — and we want to take it back that way.”

The park will preserve an old tree in the area, lined with alders and filled with other trees to provide lots of shade and to prevent passers-by from seeing straight through the park to another parking lot. Wales referred to the area as “an oasis.”

“We don’t want it to become a barren wasteland of grass,” he said. “We want to make sure there’s plenty of shade for everyone.”

The design for walking paths in the park was inspired by subway systems and the national layout of the Norfolk-Southern Railway system, with Spencer at its heart.

“Spencer becomes kind of the center gathering place for this system,” he said.

The park will also feature a pavilion inspired by the design of train engines.

When it comes to the municipal complex itself, everything is designed with the comfort, safety and ease of Spencer residents in mind — from a wall separating the booking and interview rooms in the Police Department to placing two closely related municipal departments in the same office space to planting holly trees outside the police chief’s window to deter snooping.

When the space is finished, town offices will occupy only about 8,000 square feet of the 20,000 square feet purchased. The rest will be available for lease. But leased spaces, Wales explained, were set up in such a way that the town could easily repurpose them with some quick upfitting.

“This will allow you to expand without any major renovation,” Wales said.

Town board members said they were impressed with the designs.

“You’ve done a fine job,” Mayor Jim Gobbel said. “Gosh, it’s just very nice.”

If all goes according to plan, Wales estimated that the town should be able to put out construction bids by early July and begin construction by fall. The existing shell should help speed the project along, as well.

“Hopefully, it’ll be a very fast process for you all,” he said.

In other business:

• Aldermen voted to close streets and waive security deposits and rental fees for vendors during this year’s October Tour.

• The board agreed to partner with Life Church in funding transportation for North Rowan Elementary School’s summer camp. The board voted to pay about $1,200 toward transportation costs.

• Police Chief Mike James cautioned residents to lock their car doors and to not leave valuable items in cars after a rash of vehicle break-ins in the area.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.